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Fintech disruption in insurance and wealth management in vogue

Saturday, November 19, 2016 - 05:50

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is seeing many fintech experiments focused on insurance and wealth management, said an MAS senior executive on Friday at the final conference of the Singapore FinTech Festival.

Singapore

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is seeing many fintech experiments focused on insurance and wealth management, said an MAS senior executive on Friday at the final conference of the Singapore FinTech Festival.

As it is, MAS has allowed a robo-adviser to operate in Singapore, said Ong Chong Tee, MAS's deputy managing director in charge of financial supervision, as the regulator looks at innovations that can boost choices for consumers.

Mr Ong did not name the robo-adviser. But BT understands that wealth management firm Crossbridge Capital launched a working robo-adviser for accredited investors in Singapore about two weeks ago. It is likely to be the first such platform in town. The platform is developed together with two well-known financial players: BNY Mellon's unit Pershing, and private bank Julius Baer.

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The service is meant to cater to underserved US expatriate investors living in Singapore, in addition to other accredited expatriates and Singaporean investors, Crossbridge said in a media statement.

Mr Ong said the regulator, like many others, is wary of the risk of regulatory arbitrage that comes from "these guys who wave the innovation flag". "Is there arbitrage? We are sensitive to that. The question is: What is this innovation? What is this new and disruptive technology that you are bringing?"

Over time, MAS will have to regulate businesses by looking at their activities, as opposed to governing them as entities alone, he added.

It will also have to tackle the grey area between regulated and unregulated businesses, and understand, among other things, the impact of the innovation spiral on risk.

Mr Ong worries a little on the "sup -tech" front - that is, having supervisory officers who can keep up with changes in technology. So MAS itself is now getting its staff to be savvy with technology, and to use data to aid their supervisory work.

"This time, we really have to run alongside (innovation)," said Mr Ong.

"Just to walk the talk, our MD Ravi (Menon) has decided that all of management should sign up for a coding programme - just to send a message that something is happening. So we've all signed up for coding."

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